People who care about the Canadian health care system should pay special attention to the Recommendations issued by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Seven of them concern Aboriginal health. I agree with all of the recommendations and wish to highlight this one:

19. We call upon the federal government, in consultation with Aboriginal peoples, to establish measurable goals to identify and close the gaps in health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, and to publish annual progress reports and assess longterm trends. Such efforts would focus on indicators such as: infant mortality, maternal health, suicide, mental health, addictions, life expectancy, birth rates, infant and child health issues, chronic diseases, illness and injury incidence, and the availability of appropriate health services.

Yes. We need well-specified goals and high-quality measures to track whether we are achieving them. As I put it in a recent post:

Canada’s race problem is invisible unless we travel to these remote [Aboriginal] communities or we systematically measure [their] problems. That’s the first step in holding ourselves accountable to solving them.

The multiple challenges facing Aboriginal and other disadvantaged communities in Canada won’t be solved by better data alone. But we can’t act wisely or effectively without accurate data on health and well being.

Thanks to Dr. Jesse Kancir (@JNKancir) for calling these recommendations to my attention.


William Gardner
William Gardner is a child psychologist at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Ottawa. He writes professionally on children's mental health, on statistical methods in social research, on Canadian and US health policy, and on ethics. He also blogs at The Incidental Economist. @Bill_Gardner

You are welcome to republish this Policy Options article online or in print periodicals, under a Creative Commons/No Derivatives licence.

Creative Commons License

More like this